Members Evening – 28th May 2009

This evening was a Members Evening. The first half followed the usual pattern, with Society Notes from our Chairman Jim Mehta, and Sky Notes and Society Images from our Observing Officer Mike McRoberts. The second half of the evening was split three ways. First up was Jeff Harries, who gave us a short talk about observing asteroids. Next, Luke gave us a talk on Time Travel, the Possibilities. Finally, Mike McRoberts gave us a talk about Voyager 1.

Sue Peters writes:

The three talks at this month’s members evening provided an excellent,diverse programme covering a range of aspects of Astronomy and were enjoyed by all present.

Jeff Harries shared his interest in observing asteroids explaining the peculiarities of their orbits and included a comprehensive list of recent observations and best observing opportunities for some of the brightest minor planets coming up in the next few years. Jeff’s list should appear shortly on the web site. He offered a challenge to the imagers to capture some of these elusive near neighbours and also Pluto, so we will await results with interest.

Luke Punnet presented a fascinating talk on time travel. He used examples from the media; clips from science fiction films and reference to literature to introduce the concept and then gave an overview of the physics underlying current theories including discussion on the possibilities/pitfalls of time travel.  His enthusiasm for the subject was evident and he answered questions from the floor at the end knowledgably and with confidence. I think that Luke is probably the youngest speaker we have had at the society and look forward to hearing more from him in the future.

The last talk was by Mike McRoberts on the Voyager missions. An amazing story well illustrated. There were a lot of details about the mission that I had been unaware of. I particularly enjoyed hearing some snippets of the recording for the ‘Aliens’ that might find the craft travelling beyond our solar system. It was fascinating to hear how these tiny craft are still working and now providing a unique insight into the Heliosphere. They are so far away it now takes over 15 hours for signals to be relayed each way. Mike directed us to the Voyager web site to discover more about the missions.  He finished his talk with the poignant piece written by Carl Sagen about human kind on our unique earth (pictured by Voyager as a pale blue dot in the vastness of space). Very thought provoking.

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